Posted by Cheick Diarra (Chairman for Africa) and Mteto Nyati (Managing Director, Microsoft South Africa)

FIFA is still completing their official evaluation report of the host country for the 2010 World Cup, but we know South Africa shared a victory with Spain on the night of July 10th by raising Africa's profile in the international community as a proud, hopeful, and increasingly stable continent. Moreover, we were thrilled to see that technology in all its forms played a major role in the month-long event’s success and wide-spread acclaim.

We have watched the South African government, FIFA, and the industry at large make huge investments in technology over the last six years in order to bring the 2010 World Cup to as broad an audience as possible. For example, for the first time, technology allowed fans from across the globe to determine the Man-of-the-Match awards for the 2010 World Cup via Web and SMS technology. Visually-impaired fans were able to enjoy soccer like everyone else during the 2010 World Cup thanks to an Audio Description project that provided the visually impaired with small receivers with inner-ear headphones for 44 matches. FIFA itself charted seven billion page views of its site FIFA.com, 410 million of those page views were recorded in a single day!

Among our partners and customers, we were especially proud to see the Official IT Services Provider to FIFA, Mahindra Satyam, run a world-class, Microsoft-based IT system that delivered a Ticketing, Accreditation, Transportation, Volunteer, Space and Material management solution that assured a safe and secure event for over 230,000 World Cup delegates, staff and volunteers.

But more significantly, we recognize the 2010 World Cup's longer term social impact.

South Africa Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe was interviewed recently in the McKinsey Quarterly, saying that, “Sporting events such as the World Cup always serve to cement the sense of belonging, the sense of being one nation."

On behalf of Microsoft’s 88,000 employees around the world, we want to say ‘Thank you, South Africa, for leading the way!’